Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Barcelona to Abu Dhabi and a Day in Haifa We Didn’t Expect

We had scheduled a full-day trip to the Golan Heights today, sort of a sentimental journey for our curiosity. We often visited a site in Jordan, Umm Qais, overlooking the Golan Heights from the east. We thought it would be fun to see it from the west side.

After our trip to Acre, we decided the last thing we wanted to do was to spend a full day on a bus with largely unmasked people who were coughing and sneezing, and it was not a location that mattered a lot to us, so we canceled.

We felt really good about our decision. I slept well and I got up early and had the laundry room all to myself, got a load started, then went up to the Horizons Lounge to have some hot coffee and watch the other passengers depart.

I put the clothes in the dryer and went back to the cabin where AdventureMan is awake and ready for breakfast. He is coughing and sneezing a little now, too, and we both drink pots of mint tea at breakfast. 

I grab the rest of the laundry as it finishes drying, we quickly fold and put away and head for our happy place on board, the spa. Most of the passengers seem not to be early risers, so when we go, before we start our day’s activities, we have it all to ourselves. My old turquoise swimsuit balloons when the jets of air hit, but no one is there to see and I will toss the suit when we start packing for our return and will never miss it. I hang on to old swimsuits just for this purpose, to get rid of them and not have to worry about transporting a damp suit. This time, hmmmm, I actually wish I had brought a newer suit that’s not saggy! I tell myself it’s OK, no one else is around this early in the morning, but – I live in fear.

After our spa time, we take our time getting ready to catch the shuttle for Haifa. The crew emergency drill begins, and we head for debarkation and wait for the shuttle. I meet a couple from near Bruges, Belgium. He is 59, and had a stroke. He has all his facilities; hears and understands but cannot communicate except by facial and hand expressions. His wife tends to him in his wheelchair and is taking him into town for the day. We have a great conversation; I am reading a book from a series right now about Bruges during the commercial explosion of the late 1400s as Bruges and the Netherlands led the way in international trading. 

The Shuttle drops us off in front of a hotel just by the main street through the Colony.

We explore the old German Colony of Haifa, and look for the Arab Market, which we discover is not open on Sundays because most of the Arabs are Christian. I do find pistachios, for which I have been searching, in one Arab quick shop which is open. They take Euros, and the nuts are very inexpensive.

Look at these wonderful old trees!

This large cathedral is St. Elias, in the center of the Arab Quarter, where everything is closed because it is Sunday.

We find a restaurant, the Gardens, for lunch and have a delicious lunch with freshly baked bread and cheese, lemon mint iced drinks, and a baked eggplant dish with tahini, finishing with Arabic coffee. We were definitely in our happy place.

The bread is still too hot to touch, full of a salty cheese, fresh out of the oven. We can hardly wait.

As we sat there, a photographer was preparing foods and photographing them for the tablet menus they are using to show their very international clientele what the dishes look like. A hungry cat and her adolescent offspring wandered the restaurant looking for handouts, and avoiding dangerous feet. 

My eye is caught by the patterned fabric they are using on the table 😊.

After lunch, we caught the shuttle back to the ship, went through the facial recognition process, and put our goods through the inspection machine, very TSA like, to get back on board. We also had to turn our passports back in as they will need them to get our Egyptian visas for the upcoming Suez transit and visit to Sfaga and Luxor.

As we boarded the bus, we talked with a New Hampshire couple who had been visiting with old friends overnight and had so much to tell us about their very different way of life but similar challenges, with children fighting old expectations and grandchildren underfoot. She also shared a cracker made with all kinds of seeds that was delicious. I’d love the recipe.

We got back at ship around 2:30. 

We took a snooze. That’s what cruises are all about, sleeping, eating, (for some, a lot of drinking) and a little bit of touring. Many passengers took long day tours to Jerusalem or Masada or the Dead Sea and are not back yet, so we made a last-minute decision to go to tea at 4:00 while there isn’t such a crowd. Great decision. Very low attendance, most tours were not back, and our friends Ed and Alan were there. We chatted with them, had some tea, listened to a string quartet, and spotted a submarine monitoring the harbor. Yes, really.

I can’t believe what I think I am seeing:

We stroll along the walking deck. I had thought this would be a place full of runners, but runners are few, and most of us are walking at various paces. We go back to our cabin and read. Time to read is such a wonderful luxury.

We love ordering dinner in our cabin. Ashok brought the fois en croute with a reduced port sauce AdventureMan loves so much, and a French Onion soup. I had Thai soup and some chicken. It was quiet and so private – and so wonderful. Another luxury – privacy!

We split a Creme Brulee for dessert. Ashok wants us each to have one, but I have diabetes, and AdventureMan helps me stay on track by splitting desserts with me.

We hear groups of our passengers returning, and we watch another cruise ship depart:

It’s Sunday. On some cruise ships, they have religious services, but not on the Oceania Nautica. At one point, AdventureMan asked me about this man named Bill, who has a group that meets every single night in a part of the restaurant. I explain to him about Friends of Bill W and the meeting for recovering alcoholics, and how glad I am to see that like-minded people can meet and strengthen one another on a ship where every day the cruise director tells us to “Grab a drink and make a friend.” I wish there were an Episcopalian group.

I feel great during the day, but when I lie down at night I get all stuffy and it sticks in my throat. I wonder if it is the cleaning supplies they use? I am constantly waking up, and have fevered dreams, although I have no fever. Finally, around three in the morning, I applied a hot towel to my sinuses and moved to sleep on the little couch, so I would be more upright. It was the right thing to do – I slept until seven thirty in the morning.

January 26, 2023 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Eating Out, Entertainment, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Stranger in a Strange Land, sunrise series, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

At Sea: We Need to Talk About Ashok

Those of you who know AdventureMan and I personally know that we are relentlessly self-reliant. With all our years of moving and living in a variety of countries, we have needed to be, but in truth, we are wired that way. You will laugh when I say I am uncomfortable even introducing this topic.

Our beautiful room comes with a butler.

It has been an awkward dance, but Ashok, our butler, is a pro at assessing people and working with their preferences. We don’t need a lot of service, and he has found ways to make himself useful to us anyway. Discovering I like Ginger Beer, he scoured the bars, alerted his contacts, and made sure our little refrigerator was well stocked with AdventureMan’s Coca Cola, and my Ginger Beer. He was always polite and pleasant.

The night we had decided to have dinner on the balcony after our day in Taormina and had saved parts of our sandwiches from lunch, we also found a generous tray of hors d’oeuvres waiting for us when we arrived late back to the ship. We had to admit, it was really nice, he had intuited well what we might like.

When we got tired of dressing for dinner and asked to have dinner in our room (part of the perks), he served us with elegance and grace, and made it so much fun that we indulged every few nights.

When AdventureMan wanted his laundry done professionally, Ashok made sure it came back very quickly.

In spite of our self-reliance, Ashok learned how to make himself invaluable to us. And, in truth, we really liked him, and loved our discussions with him. We were impressed with his resourcefulness, and his delight in making things happen. He seemed to delight in delighting us.

We are at sea for two days, en route from Messina to Haifa, Israel.

I was wide awake by five, so I got up quietly and dressed, grabbed my computer, found a cup of coffee at Barista’s, and headed up to Horizon’s, the forward observation lounge to check e-mails. Over 300 e-mails, horrors! I spent a while just deleting, then responding to the few requiring attention – requests from Air France for rating how I liked my flights, and a couple e-mails from friends. Most of the time, in this large lounge, it was just me and one or two others. I did get a nice photo of the sun coming up; it looks a lot like the day before.

When I headed back to our cabin, AdventureMan was just getting up, so we went together to breakfast where I am so delighted to find marinated herring and smoked salmon, two of my favorite things in the world. (It’s my Swedish blood talking.) AdventureMan finds herring abhorrent, and so does the Indonesian lady dishing it up; when I say a bright cheery “thank you!” her response was meant to be a smile, but it was a little twisted by disgust. I also had my virtuous oatmeal, with virtuous fresh blueberries – so much temptation, but my blood sugar is well within normal and I want to keep it there.

After breakfast I introduced AdventureMan to a new thrill – the spa pool at the front of the ship. It is just below the Horizons Lounge, and we had noticed that if you enter the pool by the stairs, you are visible to the people in the lounge. It doesn’t bother AdventureMan, but I figured out how to enter from the side, so as to remain unseen. The spa is very warm to hot, and can be made to bubble, so we had a wonderful twenty minutes in the hot tub in the fresh air, then we headed back to our room.

This early morning trip to the spa, having it all to ourselves, became another guilty pleasure. So lovely, so indulgent.

This quiet sea day, I napped a lot. I meant to read. I meant to update this journal. I napped. I don’t even feel guilty, it felt so good. 

Our cabin as all shades of grayish green, sea colors. The walls look almost gray, but there are streaks of green in the wall paper. The upholstered headboard is a very pale shade of sea-green. The furniture and pillows a little bit darker shade of green, and the two pashmina throws to keep us warm are almost an exact match to the furniture. It’s all very soothing.

There is a little “couch,” really more of a love-seat, where I can fall asleep very easily.

Space is smartly allocated so that there is plenty of closet space, with doors that open so you can see everything, and enough hangers. (Enough hangers! I didn’t have to ask for more!) There are enough drawers to stow things in neatly. The bathroom has two upper-side cupboards, and two lower cupboards with shelves, too. There is more cupboard space in the bathroom than we need; we can keep everything in cupboards, out of sight. (This is a first.)

The ship is very silent. We don’t hear the motors, or the anchors dropping or lifting. We feel little sways and jerks now and then. At one point the weather changed briefly, we had rain. At night the ship swayed enough to cause some to have problems with balance, but it wasn’t much. We can feel the boat rock side to side, just a little, now and then. It is like being a baby again, held against your Mama as she walks about, feeling safe and secure. I napped a lot.

Dinner this night at sea was an Italian Market special, and we ate once again in the casual restaurant but dressed up a little. As it was a little cold and windy, we ate inside instead of at our usual table on the back terrace. It was one of my favorite meals – grilled Italian vegetables (mostly eggplant and peppers) and a big bowl of an Italian kind of Bouillabaisse, a fish stew, and it was wonderful. 

In the restaurant, I could overhear a conversation I longed to join, two tables away, about Amor Towles and A Gentleman in Moscow. I tried to see who the people were, an assortment of six, but I am not sure I would recognize them again. Another woman, seated nearby, was very blonde with a bright red pashmina wrapped around her shoulders – I’ve always envied that drama, and know it isn’t really my style.

Even though I napped a lot during the day, I slept well this night for the first time since Barcelona.

We slept fairly well through the night, awakening around five but getting back to sleep again for another day at sea. Nice breakfast on the Terrace (my virtuous oatmeal, this time with fresh raspberries), followed by another early visit to the spa, where at that early hour, we have it all to ourselves. We were out in time to get ready for the Veteran’s Day/ Remembrance Day Ceremony at 9:15 in the Nautica Lounge. It was simple, short and sweet.

We were back at the Nautica Lounge just a short while later for another enrichment lecture on the Knights Hospitaler and Knights Templar, which helps put everything in context for our upcoming trip to Acre while we stop in Haifa. 

We nap and read through the quiet afternoon as we pass south of Crete and Greece, never seeing a speck of land. Tonight is dinner at Toscana, the ship’s specialty Italian restaurant; we have dinner reservations at seven. We know a waiter who works there, Buti, and he has been waiting for us to come see him. 

The problem, for us, is that by late afternoon we are already closing down. We’ve always been this way, but when we were younger, we really didn’t know it. We dress, I wear the one little black dress I have brought for special evenings, with a red scarf, my own toast to a little drama. When we get to Toscana, there is a line, the restaurant isn’t open yet so we go into the library. Shortly, the Jewish Shabbat began, and we left to give them privacy, got in the line, and very shortly got in and asked to be seated in Buti’s section.

Buti treated us like gold. We felt so special. When I ordered, he insisted I add a small dish of pasta, angel hair aglio oglio, and when he brought it, it was perfect. He also brought a small bowl of sambol oelek sauce, which I know from Kuwait and Qatar, spicy hot peppers in a little vinegar, absolutely divine. I also had Veal Marsala, and AdventureMan had a Caprese Salad and Linguini Cioppiono. Altogether, it was a lovely meal. All around us people were laughing and talking, a single man at the next table was reading Saul Bellow, and as nice as it all was, it was slowly elegant and we got restless. We skipped dessert, which is a really good thing, because my blood sugar was 123 the next day, which gave me a good wake-up call. 

I loved the sambol oelek, and I loved the angel hair pasta. It’s hard for me to be gracious after five at night. When we got home, we were exhausted. Everyone is so kind, wanting to make us feel so special, and I just feel tired and happy to be back in my room getting ready for bed.

January 25, 2023 Posted by | Adventure, Civility, Cooking, Cultural, Customer Service, Education, Geography / Maps, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Stranger in a Strange Land, Travel | , | Leave a comment

We Sail Away on Oceania’s Nautica

AdventureMan made a good call. It feels like forever since we have gotten up without an alarm, and had time to take time. We got up, dressed, made sure our bags to be picked up and transported to the Nautica were ready to go, and headed down to breakfast. At a nearby table, I spotted two men who had also sat near us the day before. I noticed them because they were kind to each other, and seemed to have really good conversations. Sometimes you just have a feeling.

Our 10:45 departure actually took place at close to 11. We had been ushered to a separate lounge downstairs, as other cruisers – maybe from other ships, too – were all sitting in the lobby and there were no seats. We got to the bus and and Alan and Ed, whom we had seen at breakfast, were sitting behind us. We had a nice chat – they are long-time Oceania cruisers. About our age, they have been many places, including Swaziland, and are on the ship all the way to South Africa, more than 30 days. They also both use the same camera I am using. It was a fun conversation, and we ended up running into them often, and always had good visits.

The boarding process was smooth and unhurried We checked in to our muster station, which was the Nautica’s main lounge.

We decided to find a shady spot by the pool while we waited for our staterooms to be ready.

They called our level around 12:30 and I got a nice surprise when we got to our suite – it is larger than I expected. It has more storage than I expected. It has larger closets and more hangers than I expected The bathroom, while small, has a lot of storage.

It has lovely shades of sea green, a dining room table with two comfy chairs, a small couch with coffee table, and a comfy, firm bed with good linens. The balcony is large, with comfy reclining wicker furniture. 

You probably wonder why I am showing you these details. Everyone had different priorities, and this will be a long trip. We put a little extra money into a larger room so we would be able to move around without annoying each other. We know we will be spending a lot of time in this room. So to enter, and to find that it is lovely and spacious matters to us. We can breathe in this room.

We put away clothes and make ourselves at home, then go for lunch at Waves, a casual restaurant near the pool where I had salmon – not that great – and AdventureMan had an ahi tuna sandwich, which he said was pretty good. My salmon was overcooked and dry.

We explored, then headed back to the cabin for some quiet time around four. 

The library had all the newest best sellers and great travel and reference books about the places we would see.

These signs below are everywhere. At first, it can be hard knowing which way is foreward and which is aft, and whether you are on port or starboard, but the signs keep you informed. One of the crewmembers told us when we come off the stairs to look for the telephone; our cabin is on that side.

Below is Bhuti, one of the first people we met on board. He would always go out of his way to make sure we had the things we liked, including an Indonesian sauce called Sambol. He treated us like honored guests. I think the staff must have entered information in computers everyone could check, information about the passengers, because everywhere we went, people knew what we liked. It was actually kind of fun to be taken care of so hospitably.

As we left the cabin, we met Miguel, our next-door neighbor. Miguel and Maria are very quiet. They had only a day in Barcelona but had hired a private guide who took them everywhere. Miguel’s face lit up as he told us about their adventures during that day. We learned also that they met when they were sixteen, and married in their early twenties, and you could see, after all these years, how devoted they were to one another. Whenever we met up, we would have great conversations. It’s amazing to me that the people we liked the best on the trip were people we met at the very beginning. Running into them and having these animated discussions made the ship feel like a village.

The ship was due to depart at 6:00, so we went out to the highest deck to watch.

Finally, we decided to go eat, at the Terraces restaurant, where we found a seat out on the aft terrace, lovely, uncrowded, warm, and not windy, and we could watch Barcelona recede into the distance as we sailed away. The ship had left while we were in transition to the restaurant and we didn’t even feel it. 

We wanted to eat light; we are both still getting used to the time change, so I looked for the pumpkin soup and finally asked a server who was standing by a big black cauldron – full of pumpkin soup. There was a platter of paella, too, so I had a small amount of that. Sitting outside watching the lights of Barcelona grow smaller in the warm evening with the full moon was delightful. 

After dinner we came back to the cabin and I figured out how to work the internet. We can only use one electronic device at a time. I meant to update this journal but found nearly 400 emails I needed to delete and eleven to which I needed to respond. Meanwhile, AdventureMan, exhausted, fell asleep, so I decided to read for a while until I was sleepy – I’m having trouble getting to sleep. It will get better.

The ship is amazingly quiet. We don’t hear the engines. We didn’t even know when the ship pulled away from the dock, it was so smooth. The ship doesn’t rock, at least not much. The corridors are quiet. The dining rooms are full of people, but conversations are quiet. There are no children on this ship. It looks to me like we are right at the median of the age on board. There are much older folk, and then there are some in their fifties. There are a few with mobility issues.

January 18, 2023 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Food, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Stranger in a Strange Land, Travel | , | Leave a comment

Tapa Tapa; Sidewalk Dining in Barcelona

Have you ever noticed it’s never the issues you worry about that happen? I had a concern that with jet lag we would be hungry when places weren’t open. As it turns out, our own schedules are so off that we fit right in with the Barcelona late-dining set.

We wanted something light for dinner, so decided to walk around the corner.

Just out the door and around the corner of our hotel, we came across this:

It’s just a little convenience store with a variety of small things, matches, snacks, little laundry detergents, etc, so you must wonder why it mattered to us? After all our years of living in the Middle East, our grandchildren adapted “Baba” as their special name for AdventureMan. He loves being Baba (a common for a father or grandfather in Middle Eastern communities) and he loves having a little grocery store named after him in Barcelona.

A couple blocks up, near the Gaudi house, we found Tapa Tapa, and what hooked us was they had pictures of the tapas. I ordered mussels, my husband ordered stir-fried vegetables, both were delicious (we shared) and light. By the time we walked back, we had done almost 14K steps.

Gaudi House

So much garlic! It’s a good thing we were sharing!

We were really hungry for vegetables, and these were tasty and delicious.

Can you see the pictures of the meals on the mats under our dishes?

It was a lovely, mild night as we strolled back to the hotel. Sometimes you really are just happy and you know it.

As we packed our bags for a 0900 pickup and got ready for bed, we decided we didn’t need to get up early and go to the Santa Catalina Market the next day. Santa Catalina had been the one market I really wanted to see, a market area where real people shop for groceries, or have a little breakfast, not like Boqueria, which is a very social quick-food place. Santa Catalina closes down Saturday afternoons and is not open on Sunday, so I didn’t get to go and I was disappointed. There is a part of me that would have liked to get up early and rush to the market to experience it, then rush back to the hotel for our transfer to the ship.

Sometimes I hate being older and wiser. And the grown-up part of me knows that rushing and not giving yourself time to pay attention to the details is a recipe for disaster. I used to take more chances. When did I become this person with good judgement?

January 14, 2023 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Cultural, Eating Out, Food, Restaurant, Travel | , | 1 Comment

Wandering in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter

We return to Place Cataluñya. We got off at La Rambla (now you can see it in the daylight, above) and we need to figure out how to get to the Barcelona Cathedral, in the Gothic section, where I had thought we might have lunch.

We’ve had three years to research this trip and there aren’t enough hours or days to do all the things we want to do in Barcelona. And every now and then, something happens that no amount of research might have prepared you for.

When we got to the cathedral, there was some kind of elder celebration. There were big circles of people dancing, having a wonderful time. It was unexpected. It was joyful!

I love that this was some kind of church-sponsored activity, not for tourists, not for us, but for them! And they were having a wonderful time, dancing!

The famous Not-Roman arch . . . not even old, not antique, more a seasoning.

We wandered, then found a little tapas place, not one of the places we had so carefully researched, but at this point, we are REALLY HUNGRY. It is cute, and full of antique Spanish antique pieces. AdventureMan, full of courage, did the ordering. I had a plate of thin jambon and cheese and he had a bowl of sausages with bread. This is not the kind of food we normally eat, but this place had nothing resembling a vegetable. It did have olives.

The beer was Estrelle, really good and cold.

And here, AdventureMan ventured to have a glass of vermouth. I wish you could have seen his grimace! He did not like it at all. We were glad we hadn’t picked up a bottle from the Carrefour to take on the ship. It would have been wasted on us!

Now that we are not urgently hungry, we have time to look for the place where AdventureMan wants to have Barcelona chocolate with churros. He knows exactly where we need to go.

On the way, we run into a large demonstration for a separate Basque nation. It is peaceful. I guess we all have our divisions.

The Gothic quarter is fascinating, full of unexpected messages and art, so we wander, but with purpose and direction. We find Petritxol Barcelona, for hot chocolate and churros for AdventureMan. I had some kind of coffee and chocolate heaped with non-sweetened whipped cream, chocolate overload. We’ve done 10K steps today, 11K yesterday. I feel no guilt eating this decadent, lucious chocolate. Later, I only wish I had bought more chocolate to take with me.

The sidewalk and street surfaces are very hard and after the chocolate, we were ready to wander back to the hotel for an afternoon snooze. My husband is talking about taking it easy tomorrow – breakfast, packing up suitcases for delivery to ship, bus to ship, checking in, leaving again for lunch in Barcelonetta, then reboarding. I am eager to get unpacked, check the wrinkling of my clothes, and get acquainted with the spaces on the ship. 

The walk back is full of interesting sights, places, were we not so tired, we might linger, have a glass of wine and watch people, buy some local cheese.

A modern take on a Spanish penthouse. You can almost guess how elegant it must be inside.

I’ve worn the same navy striped linen dress for three days – with a T-shirt while we flew and a different t-shirt in Barcelona. It goes everywhere. It has no nationality. I had put on the green French terry dress to wear today, but when we went to breakfast, I discovered it was too hot, so I changed back into my linen dress. Very comfortable. Tied my navy hoodie around my shoulders, and was glad to have it riding on top of the bus. It is sunny, but cool in shade or breeze.

Back in the hotel by mid-afternoon for a rest, my husband snoozing. So far I have felt no effects from jet lag. I will try not to nap so I can sleep tonight. Sleeping on the overnight flight worked well for me. 

January 14, 2023 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Food, Photos, Political Issues, Restaurant, Travel, Weather | , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: Breckenridge, 2 Perspectives

We love The Lodge at Breckenridge, and we love the beautiful room overlooking the valley where Spring is clearly coming.

We decide to dine at the Lodge restaurant. We have a wedding anniversary coming up in June and we might as well start celebrating now 🙂

We share a charcuterie board to start.

I have the Caesar salad for my main course – and I am delighted when it arrives with a real anchovy on top. I haven’t seen an anchovy on a Caesar salad since Doha.

AdventureMan has the Elk Tenderloin, and generously shares a slice or two with me – it is delicious.

I’m pretty sure we shared a dessert, too, but I can’t remember. I had a local port, AdventureMan had a Bordeaux and we floated to our room.

The next morning, we slept in a little – and awoke to five inches of snow. We could hear other doors onto balconies opening and people saying “Snow!”

We got through the mountain pass, and safely into Colorado Springs where we had a wonderful visit with my youngest sister and her husband in their mountain eyrie. We watched episodes of Joe Pickett (we didn’t even know the series, however short-lived, existed) and then they introduced us to Longmire. Her husband played some blues and boogie for us, and we all belted out “The Train They Call the City of New Orleans.” It was a great visit.

June 13, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Food, Hotels, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Weather | , , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: Our Last Day in Moab

Today is a day purely for leisure and having fun; we head into Moab for the Moab Arts Fest. It is very family-oriented, with games and entertainment and food, and booths with hand crafted items. I find a fiber artist and a great gift for my sister, a spidery light bright red wrap with silk fibres pressed into it. It is stunning. I can easily imagine it on my stylish sister.

We decide to have lunch at Singha Thai because we so thoroughly enjoyed their food our first night in Moab. This food was equally impressive.

So much food, the veggies crisp-cooked and delicious! AdventureMan had the basil chicken with lots of broccoli, and I had the ginger chicken, more sweet red peppers and spring onions. We couldn’t begin to eat it all, so we packed it up and had it on our Trail’s End veranda for our own sunset dinner.

June 13, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Food, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: The Sunset Grill

It has been a lighter day, for us, and we spend the afternoon reading and napping (AdventureMan), packing (both) and writing up the adventures and organizing photos (me). We also know we have dinner planned, dinner at a Moab classic, the Sunset Grill.

The Sunset Hill has pride of place in it’s position, high over Moab. They have parking, and overflow parking, and a large van that picks up tourists around Moab who want to eat at the Sunset Grill. They don’t take reservations. People are lined up at 4:30, before most of the wait-staff have even arrived. There is a garden where they can sit and look over the city while they wait to be seated.

Once you are invited inside, there is plenty of seating, all with fabulous views.

The wait staff is polite, helpful, and efficient. All the music is Frank Sinatra, and the decor is pure 1950s. The menu is pure 1950s, with choices of steaks, salmon, chicken, shrimp, and pastas. It’s a real experience. Not my favorite era so once was enough.

June 13, 2022 Posted by | Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: Arches National Park and Moab

I love that Arches NP has gone to a reservation system during the busy months. Everyone has an equal shot; you can book a time a couple months in advance. We love the morning light, so we have booked a 7:00 a.m. slot and it is a gorgeous day. There is no line at the entrance booth. There are no crowds at the various arches. It is all so relaxed!

The morning is crisp, cool, and magnificent with a bright deep blue sky.

Please forgive me, I am besotted with the textures and colors and the shapes of the rock and I have yet to show you a single arch.

Our preference, at Arches, is to drive to the very end, to Devil’s Garden, and hike while it is still cool, and then stop at the other arches on our way back. But we always have to stop at the one on the way.

I think this is Delicate Arch from below

I love these rocks that look like Aliens; this rock is on the hiking route up to Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch for sure

A wealth of arches!

Because I can’t resist a good mountain 🙂

We hit the visitors center at Arches, then headed into Moab for lunch. It was around 11, so we were the first seated at Pasta Jay’s, where AdventureMan had a Caprese salad and Saturnalia pizza and I had a pizza Rustica, which was a garlic pizza base and Caesar salad on top. We split a Tiramisu, delicious.

Arches National Park Visitors Center

When we picked up our Thai food last night, we could smell the pizzas from Pasta Jay’s, so we really had no problem choosing where we would go for lunch. Pasta Jays!

The heat in Moab is so dry that it is still cool enough to sit outside to eat. The setting is delightful, but oh! The noise! The Main street of Moab is full of trucks with heavy rumbling loads, squealing breaks and loud engines. There are Vans pulling ATVs, trailers full of kayaks and canoes, a constant, endless flow of noisy traffic.

But the food is delicious.

Caprese salad

Saturnalia Pizza

Pizza Rustica – a Caesar Salad on a thin pizza crust

Fabulous Tiramisu

We are thoroughly satisfied with our lunch, and we are delighted also to head back to the peacefulness of our cabin.

So this is not like FaceBook, this is the real world. In the real world, not everything is perfect. We are really happy to have a beautiful, quiet cabin because with all the driving and hiking, AdventureMan’s back is acting up. It’s been tender a couple days. He insists that the hiking in Arches was actually good for his back, but when I bring up canceling our activity for tomorrow, he only resists for a while.

To me, it made sense to cancel, even though it was something we had really wanted to do, hike the Canyon of the Ancients in search of more petroglyphs. It would have meant a two-and-a-half-hour drive down, four hours of hiking, and a two-and-a-half-hour drive back. To me, that did not make sense with a tender back. Life is short. We can do the hike another year, hopefully find a cabin down in the Four Corner area where we can stay and do a more thorough exploration of several nearby areas. Once we canceled, we both felt relieved.

We also had dinner plans, a totally tourist thing, a Sunset Boat Cruise with Canyonlands, and included Cowboy Dinner. All we had to do was show up. It turned out to be really fun, and the dinner, all kinds of BBQ, was surprisingly good. Canyonlands guide Brandon was entertaining and full of good information, he showed us more petroglyphs and arches, and got us back in time for dinner.

Can you find the arch?

Petroglyphs along Potash Road
A couple more arches if you can spot them

A great ending to a great day.

June 12, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Beauty, Environment, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Safety, Travel, Weather | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: On to Trails End, and Moab

The drive from Vernal to Moab was pretty boring, but we had a memorable stop at the Outlaw Cafe in some small town, where we had surprisingly good salads.

We got to the cabin at about three, keys were waiting for us, and the cabin is quirky but had a lot of things we really like. Lots of space, a beautiful deck with a wide expanse of view, and although the temperatures in Moab are in the 80’s heading toward 90’s, the breezes in the Pack Creek Valley keep things relatively cool. The king-size bed is generous and firm.

The rules focus on quiet and mutual respect. We took a look at the pool and hot tub and had no interest. We loved the quiet of the cabin.

I’m a worrier. I love planning trips, and sometimes it feels like a high wire act. Will I be able to get the dates I want for the property I want? Will I be able to fly on the dates we need to fly on? And when I chose this cabin to stay in for five days, I worried that it wouldn’t be as good as the photos. Maybe it was too far from town?

The internet didn’t work, which was a good thing. We were so busy that we didn’t even worry about getting it fixed for the first three days, and that was a lovely blessing. And in the midst of “busy,” we had this lovely, incredibly quiet, beautiful retreat in the middle of our vacation. This was not a luxurious place, unless you consider privacy, simplicity and quiet a luxury – and we do.

You can see our food box on the table – everything we need except for fresh milk for my cereal, which I mix myself and bring with us. We will pick up milk later, at the grocery store in Moab, along with our dinner. There is a stove and oven, a full size refrigerator, a microwave, a coffee maker. There is a large sink, all the dishes, pots, pans, containers we might need.

Although the temperatures are in the 90’s, the cool winds keep us comfortable and we never have to turn on the air conditioning. I need to wash a couple things; I wash them in the sink, hang them on hangers on this porch, and within a couple hours they are completely dry. Sheer luxury.

Although I am not much for sunning, lying out on the bench to dry my hair was another luxury, the breezes faster than a hair dryer.

As I walked around taking photos, it’s a good thing I didn’t know about rattlesnakes. There was one coiled right by the back deck which slithered away while Adventureman stepped out on the deck. He took it in stride. I didn’t grow up with snakes; I might have had a different reaction.

The pool was lovely and we are happy enough in our little cabin and on our little deck.

We head into Moab to pick up dinner; it is Monday, and as is true through out the United States, many places are closed. AdventureMan picks a Thai restaurant, Singha Thai, and we order vegetable rolls, sate and Thai salad. We pick it up and stop at a grocery store for milk. The grocery store is disconcerting; we hear German, we hear French, it is packed with Moab tourists from all over the world looking for something for dinner. We buy our milk and hit the road; it is 20 minutes to our cabin, Trail’s End, at Pack Creek Ranch. We are at the foot of the La Sal mountains.

At sunset, AdventureMan sees twirling lights on a nearby hill. Like the petroglyphs, it is a mystery. We can see vans on the crest of the hill, we can see a human twirling (juggling?) something (flashlights? those balls with lights inside?) as the sun goes down and we can hear singing, but we can’t hear the words. We imagine it is some sort of sunset ritual.

The sunset is full of bird sounds; owl, turtledove, others which shriek a little, and the soft gurgling of Pack Creek. Once the sun is set, there is a stunning quiet, so quiet that your ears might ring with the silence.

The night sky is brilliant with stars.

The next morning, the light paints the distant rock hills with color.

June 12, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Living Conditions, Privacy, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | , , , | Leave a comment